Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation Presents Restoration Plans - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation Presents Restoration Plans

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The grand vision to restore the Blue Ridge Tunnel as a historic attraction might be a little closer to moving forward. A meeting and tour of the tunnel took place Wednesday to drum up excitement for the plans.

The Crozet tunnel was an engineering marvel, but it was shut down in 1944. Now the dreams to restore it as a greenway connecting both sides of the mountain might advance.

The Blue Ridge Tunnel Foundation hosted a presentation Wednesday to reel in support and attention from stakeholders and politicians who could potentially fund the project. The foundation has the money for phase one of the three-phase plan.

Because of safety concerns, it is not open to the public right now, but those invited on the tour were granted special access to the tunnel. Leaders say the tunnel is a true untapped resource and leaves a major gap in Virginia's history.

"Part of it is building fans of the tour to sort of build support - political, regional support - it's very difficult to sell that without actually seeing it. So having this core group to sort of take a look at that hopefully helps pave the way for the future,” said Dwayne Jones, director of Waynesboro Parks and Recreation and member of the tunnel foundation’s board.

Foundation members say this would have not only regional but also national significance, as the tunnel was once the longest railroad tunnel in North America.

Phase one would establish access to the Afton trailhead. Because it ended up being more expensive than the foundation thought, the foundation would like to rebid in the coming weeks with an amended set of goals.

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